Faced with a cancer diagnosis, people in northern Colorado have two strong allies – UCHealth’s cancer program and hope. Patients diagnosed with cancer in northern Colorado can receive the best care without leaving the region.
While many may think they would go to a national center if faced with cancer, the reality is that more than 80 percent of cancer patients in the U.S. receive treatment in their own community. In fact, very few have the resources to travel far for the approximately 100 appointments that occur in the first year after diagnosis.
For decades, Poudre Valley Hospital, now part of University of Colorado Health, has built a cancer program that provides comprehensive cancer services in northern Colorado, including its clinic in Greeley. Access to clinical trials is a key component.
“Patients have access to approximately 60 open studies at any given time,“ said Dr. Steven Schuster, UCHealth’s medical director of oncology clinical research. “UCHealth’s study portfolio is continually reviewed in order to ensure that it matches the needs of the communities we care for. For example, UCHealth now has increased its portfolio of lung and gynecological trials, which have been gaps in our community.”
Today, the UCHealth’s oncology research enrolls 7 percent of eligible patients— well over the national average of 3 percent. As a result, advances in cancer treatment are made, based on the data from these trials. Participation determines the efficacy of a new treatment. When a trial drug is proved effective, it becomes a standard-of-care treatment option.
“As a doctor who treats cancer, my mission is to determine the best, individualized treatment plan for every patient,” said Dr. Schuster. Finding or selecting the right treatment for the right patient is becoming a reality thanks to advances in new therapies. Often these new targeted therapies are different than traditional chemotherapy because the therapy attacks only the cancer cells versus the rest of the healthy patient.
“These new therapies allow us to create a more effective treatment plan while reducing the number of side effects,” said Dr. Schuster. “We are also learning how to use genetic information in the tumor to determine the best treatment plan for each patient. It is often these genetic abnormalities that cause cancer.”
Learn more at youwannafight.com or call 970-297-6150.